MIX Comes Out on Top with New, More Accurate Ratings System
The end, beginning and middle of any good broadcasting operation is ratings. People listen and watch, broadcasters sell advertising, and that means more great music and programming for the audience. MIX 101.5 WRAL-FM recently transitioned to a new way of measuring ratings, and the results have shown more vividly than ever that MIX is on top of its game.
The Portable People Meter
In 2010, the Raleigh-Durham radio market switched to the Portable People Meter (PPM) system of measuring ratings. The PPM is now in the top 50 markets nation-wide. Participants wear a small portable device that records what radio they listen to throughout the day. Stations like MIX send out an undetectable signal every few seconds during their broadcast day which the meter picks up.
Every night, participants plug their meter into a home base that charges the device and records the data from that day’s listening. The information is transmitted to Arbitron who collects the data and prepares 13 reports each year, one for each month and a special ratings book for the holiday season (the last two weeks of December & first two weeks of January).
The PPM doesn’t lie. Although the sampling of listeners is smaller – the people participating in each ratings period is about two-thirds less than the previous diary system – the results are infinitely more accurate.
“The trade-off is still positive,” said WRAL-FM Program Director Barry Fox. “The diary was just such a hit or miss thing. You were asking people to recall what they listened to throughout the day, which is almost impossible.”
In the old system, listeners simply recorded what they’d listened to each day at the end of the day in a diary form. Imagine listening to a station in your car, then flipping to another if you heard a song or ad you didn’t like, and then switching again. There was no way for participants to be accurate in recording exactly what they’d listened to and how long.
“It’s all about how many people are listening and how long they listen on each tune-in,” explained Fox. And the PPM can record that exactly.
A New Way of Measuring Up
MIX made the transition, along with the rest of the Raleigh-Durham market last spring, but the first data which could be used publically came in mid-October.
“Before we started People Meter I was saying, ‘I hope we do well, but I’ll feel better no matter what it says’,” said Fox. “The PPM would be giving an accurate read on our station.”
The results were more than positive.
“The great news?” said Fox. “It looks like we’re on track.”
Arbitron began using the surveying radio listening using the diary system in the mid 60’s, longer than FOX has been in radio. The PPM brings about a whole new methodology. Every second counts now. Every break, every lead-in to a song, every song, it all matters.
The diary meant a certain set of rules, but the PPM is tweaking the game.
“We’ve have 40-50 years of rehearsal time for the present,” said Fox. “Every second counts.”
But Fox emphasizes that although MIX is taking every minute of air-time seriously, that they aren’t going overboard: “We want people to be themselves and entertain, but every break count and we can’t waste time on air.”
It’s a new balance that MIX has already worked hard to attain. They’ll maintain that new standard and work harder to make it work even more for their listeners.
The Results: MIX is on Top
In these first results MIX came out on top overall in November and December, as the number one station in the Triangle. And they won October in Women ages 25-54, the broad core demographic for the station.
MIX specifically targets women ages 35-44. And they came out #1 in every day part, every day of the week for that age group for October, November & December, the first three months of public data from the new PPM.
For weekdays, MIX ranked #1 in Persons 25-54 and women 25-54 in October, November & December. And a few more great results:
- For 6am-10am weekdays, #1 in Persons 25-54 & Women 25-54 for Nov & Dec
- For middays (10am-3pm) #1 in Persons 25-54 & Women 25-54 for Oct, Nov & Dec
- For afternoons weekdays (3pm-6pm) #1 in Dec for Persons 25-54 & Women 25-54, #1 in Women 25-54 for Nov & Dec as well
“We’re absolutely thrilled and hope for continued success into the new year,” said Fox.
The first-ever holiday book results will be out soon, and Fox is hoping for big numbers there as well. The 4-week period during the holidays has previously been unrated in the diary system. MIX played 24-7 Christmas music during the two weeks leading up to Christmas, which will be included in the ratings, a popular format for the station.
“We are always looking to sustain and improve,” said Fox. “We are hoping to continue this.”